We test more than 30 mulcher and catcher-only four-stroke lawnmowers, priced from $219 to $1039.
Through our rigorous testing, we reveal which petrol-powered lawnmowers:
- perform the best at cutting grass at various lengths
- perform the best at mulching
- are the easiest to use.
On this page:
If you're keen to have a healthy-looking lawn and lend Mother Nature a helping hand, a mulcher mower that returns the cut clippings to the lawn could be the right choice for you. But a catcher mower is also a good option if you want the clippings for your compost bin.
The fine clippings from a mulching lawnmower can reduce your lawn's need for water and fertiliser; they slow down the evaporation process, providing not only an environmental advantage but a cost saving one as well. All the mulcher models on test can be used with a grass catcher instead if you want to completely remove the grass cuttings from your lawn.
For a small or medium-sized lawn, a battery-powered or electric model is a good alternative, though they tend not to cope as well as petrol models with long grass. Battery models can also mulch grass well, but again, we find that petrol models have the advantage here.
For more information on lawnmowers, see Backyard. For reliability, see our member survey.
Four stroke good – two stroke bad
All the models we tested are four-stroke. CHOICE does not recommend two-stroke engines, no matter how well they perform, as they emit more pollution, burning a mixture of petrol and oil rather than straight petrol. A four-stroke motor typically emits half the carbon monoxide and one-tenth the hydrocarbons that a two-stroke produces.
For example in a previous test on catcher-only petrol mowers the Victa Tornado Classic TCS482 had the same cutting and ease of use scores in our test as its four-stroke cousin, the TCS484. So although it scored well in performance, we could not recommend it on environmental grounds. After that test it was decided that we would no longer test two-stroke models.
Petrol lawnmower brands tested
CHOICE tests petrol-powered mowers that keep your lawn looking its best. Some have self-propelled drive mechanisms but most are pushed by the user.
- 909 Key Start ES18
- AL-KO Classic 4.24P-S
- AL-KO Silver 470B
- AL-KO Silver Premium 470BRV
- Greenfield Kohler XT8
- Honda HRU196M1 Buffalo Classic
- Honda HRU197K1 Buffalo Bull
- Honda HRU197M1 Bull
- Honda HRU19K1 Buck
- Honda HRU19M1 Buffalo Buck
- Husqvarna LC19A
- Makita PLM4614P
- Makita PLM5116P
- Masport S18 470ST 2'n1 578912
- Masport S19 MSV Genius 4'n 1 AL – 578916
- Parklander PCM4050
- Rover Challenger Mulch n Catch 11A-H1LE333
- Rover Challenger Xtra/11A-H0LB333
- Rover Regal SP Mulch n Catch 12A-E1LB333
- Sanli LazerCut LCS400
- Scott Bonnar Greenkeeper 11A-I0LK373
- SupaSwift 777XMC Blue
- SupaSwift Lawn Range Blue
- Toro Personal Pace Recycler 22" 20332C
- TPE TN008B
- Troy-Bilt Easy Start Xtra 11A-HOOK363
- Victa Commando CMS485
- Victa Corvette 650 GMS486
- Victa Easy Walker 19" Self-Propelled Mulch or Catch VMD486
- Victa Mustang MCA485
- Victa Super Catcher 18" Cut and Catch VCS469
- Victa Super Mulcher 18" Mulch or Catch VMS467
Plus results for several discontinued models from earlier tests.
How we test
We test the mowers at Tropical Lawns, a turf farm in Cairns, Queensland.
The consistent climate provides plenty of grass to cut all year round. We weigh each mower, assess its cutting height range and checked how close it can cut along a vertical wall at the front and sides. The numbers listed in the table under 'Closeness of cut to a vertical edge in mm' relate to the dimensions of the width of grass left behind after cutting at the front, right hand side and left hand side of the mower.
Ease of use
We rate the mowers for vibration through the handle bar, ease of pushing and manoeuvring, handle comfort, convenience of controls, ease of adjusting the cutting height, catcher convenience and ease of starting.
We test the lawnmowers for their ability to cut short- and medium-length grass with a catcher, and long grass without a catcher.
In mulching mode, we cut short and medium length grass and assess the appearance of the lawn after.
We measure noise at 7.5m and at the operator's ear level. For a better understanding of how noise relates to everyday sounds, see our article here.
Our safety tests include measuring blade stopping time and a foot probe safety test. We very rarely find any models that fail these tests.